My whole understanding of what a leader is has been turned upside down on its head recently.
In the past, when I thought about a ‘leader’ – the image that came to mind was someone who was assertive, confident, charismatic, authoritative, empathetic, a risk taker, a visionary and a talented public speaker. In the business world, I judged the capability of those in charge based on these criteria. In the classroom, I felt confident to identify leadership potential in young people by applying the same markers. In my own life, while I have stepped up to leadership roles, I never felt I was a true leader as I wasn’t living by my own definition.
And that’s when the penny dropped and I realised how limiting this definition is!
You see, my definition of leadership was not only preventing me from seeing others as being potential leaders, it was also inhibiting me!
Then I came across a new set of attributes that all leaders are said to possess and frankly I was shocked! I had ALL these qualities. Could I possibly be a leader? Do we all have the potential to be leaders?
Leadership qualities redefined
The qualities of a leader (or deep drivers) as described by Jamie Smart in his new book Results goes something like this:
Direction: having a sense of direction, purpose and motivation.
Resilience: the ability to bounce back and carry on.
Creativity: ideas and inspiration to create results.
Authenticity: knowing yourself and walking your talk.
Intuition: that inner knowing and trust in your own guidance system.
Presence: being connected with everything around you (strongly connected to charisma).
Connection: the ability to create strong, genuine connections with others.
Having these attributes doesn’t make you immune to criticism or failure. That just goes with the territory. However, when things don’t go as planned, a leader is able to adjust course, get back on track and keep going.
Too many leaders?
And how about the old saying ‘too many chiefs, not enough Indians’ – with all these leaders, who is left to follow? Well, if you are leading in an area where you are authentic and your motivation, creativity and connection are at their highest, then you follow in areas where you are not. For example, I am the leader when it comes to preparing the nightly meal, but in the garden my lack of green fingers relegates me to a definite follower! I have shown myself to be a leader when working in the classroom, but when it came to managing a school I’m happy to be a follower. As a good leader, your sense of presence and connection may also mean that you delegate tasks to others who are more capable to take a lead role.This redefinition has been a huge paradigm shift for me.
I have come to see myself as a leader and I’m also able to recognise that everyone has the potential for leadership because all of these attributes are part of who we all are, when we are living in a state of wellbeing, peace, joy and clarity unclouded by negative thoughts. It's got me thinking – what other self-created definitions are holding me back in my life?
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